Friday 10 August 2012

These moments

This weekend my brother invited me join him at a small meet-up called 'The Little Green Gathering', held at a local sustainability centre where he was giving a talk on the Zeitgest movement, something he is as passionate about as I am about diabetes advocacy.  I've been saying for some time that I'd come along to one of his talks, so this evening I decided to join him and come good on my promise.   But as so often happens when we aren't searching for it, it was an unexpected, wonderful moment that made the event.

Knowing that he was on for an hour and with a serious coffee addiction meaning I would be a fidgety twitcher if I didn't visit the little girls room, I nipped off to the ladies for a loo-stop.  As I waited for a cubicle to become free, two people filed in behind me: a mother and her daughter,  talking amongst themselves.  Normally their conversation would have passed over me barely registering, but all of a sudden a familiar phrase caught my attention.

"We should do your numbers in a minute." Mum said.

I've heard those words before.  I've heard them on more than just a few occasions.  As I eavesdropped them discussing numbers and times I wanted so badly to turn and let them know my little secret too, but the door of a cubicle opened and without meaning to I found myself locking the cubicle door behind me, saying goodbye to that moment.

It's a good job I pee fast.

As I emerged from the cubicle I made it just in time to see a crisp, clean looking testing kit sprawled in front of the young girl, cradled in the open hands of the mother.  Even that image speaks a thousand words, doesn't it?

I squeezed past and whispered to them, "me too," gesturing towards the open kit.

"Sorry", mum said, now making eye contact with me.

"Me too." I repeated.

"Really?" Her eyes now fixed on mine.

"Yup" I smiled.  

"Type 1 or 2?"

"Type 1" (weirdly proud).  

"When were you diagnosed?" She questioned.

"Oh god, 25 years now. So, 1986 I guess."

"Wow, she has had it a month." Glancing over to her child.

And there it was; the future of diabetes.  A bight young thing getting accustomed to a lifetime of hand-washing, loo-testing and number-crunching.  As mum and I exchanged stories the bubble around us grew as I was only distantly aware of people coming in and out of the cubicles behind us.  Like bathroom checkers, we were pushed from one spot to another as people negotiated the room we had commandeered to share this moment.

We talked pumps, diagnosis and injections, and as mum pulled out the needle from a correction dose of insulin, the future generation of diabetes and I high-fived and smiled.  Stupid, crappy injections.  We shared a knowing glance.

I couldn't leave without swapping details.  Having only been on board for a month but already speaking a language they should never have needed to learn, I wondered how many questions mum might have in her head.  Does it get easier? How long does it take to learn? Are you happy?  Will she be OK?

We swapped emails and addresses and promised to keep in touch  so we could ask all the questions we want, without the whirring of a hand-dryer somewhere in the background.  

As I went to leave the room I heard, "Are you a hugger?"

"Oh yeah, I'm a hugger." I replied.

Hug isn't the word. Embrace is closer to the mark.  An embrace that lingered a moment longer than it would have even between friends.  With that and a "Welcome to the club, kid.  We're all pretty awesome", we parted ways with a smile and a promise.

These are the moments I live for.  A moment which could so easily have been missed if any one of us had changed our path.  If we'd doubled back, done that test elsewhere, not mentioned anything about numbers.

I don't know how, but somehow, every time, diabetes finds a way to bring us together.


  1. Brought me to tears. My 6 year old is part of your "club". Thank you for sharing this. xx

    1. I'm glad this meant something to you too. It was a really touching moment and I'm sure, the start of a friendship.

      Welcome to the club to your young star too!

      AP x

  2. I'm very proud of you my friend. You should be proud of yourself too. That little girl has just had a diagnosis that you and I know means her life will never be the same. Her mum is probably (secretly) terrified and asking herself a million questions whilst trying to be strong for both of them. I bet you made her day. in fact I have a suspicion that the kind words of support and comfort that you showed them, at a time of utter uncertainty, will stay with them for a very long time.

    1. Thanks Mrs P. I know that you 'get it' and have all too often seen the differences it makes to a young person. You are one of the few people I think they refer to as a 'type 3 diabetic', one who has it by association! You know more than you should have to as well, but chose to use that as a way to make a difference to young people

      AP x

    2. I am that mum. Yes, I'm terrified much of the time. Anna, you made a huge difference to that day, and you *do* have a talent for writing - so I'm glad you're sharing this.

      Thank you for speaking out and greeting us... my lass had said not half an hour previously that she 'didn't want to be around people because they don't understand' and that's why she didn't want to hug even close family friends.

      And then you high-fived her. She knew *you* understood. Thank you, thank you.

    3. Hey, TalisK,

      I'm so glad you got in touch and so glad we met. I'm also glad you didn't mind me using your story here. I don't normally find myself blogging at 2am, but it was something I had to get out.

      Your daughter seems awesome and to only have had it a month and be coming to terms with it (even expressing that right now, she doesn't want to talk) is really awesome.

      It DOES get easier.

      I promise


  3. Hi Anna

    Lovely post... as I mentioned on Ben's fb update over the weekend :)

    Would you mind sending me your email address to: andrew AT stwem DOT com?

    I'd like to invite you to an event in London later this month.

    Hope to hear from you soon.